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Suzy Kolber: ‘The Draft is Too Important To Ask Generic Questions’

“That moment is captured forever. It’s the once-in-a-lifetime they just found out they’ve been drafted into the NFL.”

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When you watch the NFL Draft on Thursday night (particularly on ESPN/ABC), you will almost certainly become nostalgic thinking about events from years past. Some of the most prominent memories from past drafts have come during the interviews the draftees do after their name is called. Since 2004, the person who has been doing those interviews for ESPN is Suzy Kolber. 

On the latest episode of the Sports Media With Richard Deitsch podcast, Kolber talked about how she prepares for her job at the NFL Draft. It starts with the Senior Bowl, which she DVRs while covering the Pro Bowl in some years. Then, she usually would go to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine and that’s when she gets to know everything about the potential prospects: 

“That’s just a great opportunity to start hearing the names, seeing the faces, learn the pronunciations, get some of the background. Our friends at NFL Network do such a spectacular job of laying all that groundwork out,” Kolber said. “I am the biggest fan. I am watching that from start to finish.”

On the night before the draft, Suzy Kolber says she makes sure to get to know the players as much as she can and asks them if something is too sensitive for her to ask on stage.

“The night before the draft, these guys are usually assembled at something or they are at their team hotel. That’s my opportunity to get as much 1-on-1 time with as many of those guys as possible so that when they have their biggest moment of their life, I’m not a stranger. I’m a familiar face. We’ve already talked about something we might want to cover. Maybe it’s something sensitive like a parent who has passed or a grandparent who has passed to make sure they are okay with that, how are we going to cover it. Maybe dig a little more into some of the nitty-gritty so that brief interview on the stage is as personal as possible. That’s the ultimate goal.” 

Kolber does not want to conduct a generic interview with a player. The moment is too big for the player and his family. 

“That moment is captured forever. It’s the once-in-a-lifetime they just found out they’ve been drafted into the NFL. The emotions are so high, so that’s why to me, the value is make it as personal as possible. It would be easy to just be generic, but this is one of my absolute favorite events and favorite things I do just because it’s so life-changing and it makes it more fun for me to know the backstory, then the emotion means so much more.” 

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Sports TV News

Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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